Essex Fells continues to work with their experts to finalize the design of new treatment facilities that will remove PFOA on a long-term basis. However, it will take time before those facilities are constructed and online. Thus, they have taken steps to reduce the overall level of PFOA more immediately.
In September and October, five wells with higher concentrations of PFOA were removed from service by Essex Fells. They have also adjusted the pumping schedule for the wells that remain in service, to ensure that the active water sources are blended in a way to optimally reduce the overall concentration of PFOA in the system.
Upon completion of these modifications, water samples were taken by Essex Fells on October 22nd at Pump Station #1 which is the point of entry for any water entering the North Caldwell Water System. Samples were also taken at the metering chamber where North Caldwell purchases water from Essex Fells. The test results returned PFOA readings of 8.21 parts per trillion (ppt) and 9.45 parts per trillion (ppt), respectively. Both results are well within the standard set by the NJDEP for PFOAs which is 14 parts per trillion (ppt). As a result, the Borough of North Caldwell will resume purchasing water from Essex Fells as the most recent test results demonstrate an instantaneous water quality that is appropriate.
However, NJ’s regulatory requirement is based on a running annual average (RAA), which averages regulatory test results over the preceding 4 quarters. Thus, even though the water being delivered will be within the 14 ppt standard, Essex Fells' RAA for the fourth quarter of 2021 will continue to exceed the maximum for PFOA, because that fourth quarter regulatory calculation will incorporate the higher PFOA test numbers from the earlier quarters of 2021.
Please understand that this will be an ongoing process until permanent treatment facilities are up and running. Our water utility will continue to communicate with Essex Fells during the ongoing monitoring of the system to assure PFOA levels within the 14ppt threshold until permanent treatment facilities are in place.
October 21, 2021 Update:
Dear Water Customers, North Caldwell Water Department is required, as a purchaser of water from Essex Fells, to provide notice that Essex Fells violated a drinking water standard, specifically perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). North Caldwell Water Department does not have its own sources or treatment and receives all its drinking water from Essex Fells Water Department and Passaic Valley Water Commission (NJ1605002). Therefore, North Caldwell Water Department is required to notify our customers. Attached, please find the public notice. This notification and subsequent action being taken by Essex Fells are driven by new regulations passed by the State of New Jersey for PFOA. Some of our surrounding communities have received similar notifications due to the new drinking water standard. What is PFOA? PFOA is a member of the group of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers used in non-stick cookware and other products, as well as other commercial and industrial uses, based on its resistance to harsh chemicals and high temperatures. PFOA has also been used in aqueous film-forming foams for firefighting and training, and it is found in consumer products such as stain-resistant coatings for upholstery and carpets, water-resistant outdoor clothing, and greaseproof food packaging. Major sources of PFOA in drinking water include discharge from industrial facilities where it was made or used and the release of aqueous filmforming foam. Although the use of PFOA has decreased substantially, contamination is expected to continue indefinitely because it is extremely persistent in the environment and is soluble and mobile in water.
What should I do?
• If you have specific health concerns, a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at higher risk than other individuals and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.
• The New Jersey Department of Health advises that infant formula and other beverages for infants, such as juice, should be prepared with bottled water when PFOA is elevated in drinking water.
• Pregnant, nursing, and women considering having children may choose to use bottled water for drinking and cooking to reduce exposure to PFOA.
• Other people may also choose to use bottled water for drinking and cooking to reduce exposure to PFOA or a home water filter that is certified to reduce levels of PFOA. Home water treatment devices are available that can reduce levels of PFOA. For more specific information regarding the effectiveness of home water filters for reducing PFOA, visit the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International website, http://www.nsf.org/.
• Boiling your water will not remove PFOA. For more information, see https://www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/pdf/pfoa-pfos-faq.pdf.
What is being done?
It is approximated that less than half of the water in the North Caldwell Water Department System has come from Essex Fells over the past year. Since August 25, 2021, the Borough has been exercising, repairing, and testing valves on our systems interconnections with Essex Fells and Passaic Valley Water Commission (PVWC). As a result of this routine maintenance, we have been buying water solely from PVWC and no water has come from the affected Essex Fells treatment plants since this date. We will continue to work with both Essex Fells and PVWC to assure the highest quality water is provided to you.
This notice is being sent to you by the North Caldwell Water Department. State Water System ID#: PWSID NJ0715001. For more information, please contact Borough Administrator, Kevin O’Sullivan, at (973) 826-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org. *Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.* *Please join our new emergency notification system by visiting the Borough’s website to receive alerts like this and other important information via phone, e-mail and/or text. To simply receive SMS text messages, please text your zip to 38276.*